Sunday 26th March 2006
next update week ending 7th April 2006
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Well, here we heading towards the 200 mark in respect of News Pages since OCBP was launched. Sometimes it is real chore to sit down each Sunday evening and "get stuck in" but everyone seems to look forward to each edition that I feel really guilty if I don't do my bit. however your contributions are really good and most welcome and certainly add to each page.
This weekend sees major activity in both main Oxford companies with the launch of new services on Monday. Some did start today but tomorrow sees the main thrust.
I spent this morning getting pictures of the main "actors" in the launches and hope you enjoy the efforts.
Derek Dawson sent in some more pictures of coaches and also new deliveries on the A34, Derek Doling added to the growing collection of Bill Legg gems on the A34. Gavin Francis has been busy in Wycombe and Oxford and both Peter Edgar and Nigel James sent pictures of last weekend's RML event in Hemel Hempsted.
Following comments and pieces on rail travel versus coach travel between London and Oxford I have an interesting submission on the rail travel side which makes interesting reading.
Within The Go-Ahead group there is news of transfers away from Oxford.
Free travel for senior citizens
Next Saturday sees the introduction of free travel for the over 60s in and around our area. Currently the free travel will apply with restrictions according to the area in which the passes are issued, however in the budget announced this last week, travel throughout the UK will be free from 2008, thereby bringing England into line with Scotland. Now would I be cynical to think this has something to with winning votes?
Rail vs Coach - another view
Virginbusman has written with the following comments on this subject which follows on from a letter on the subject of last trains and competitive fares. He writes:
"Although diverging a little bit from the subject of buses, I felt it necessary to reply to the comments from Simon Brown about the train service to London published two weeks ago on news page 169 as I felt that it didn't really address everything from a passengers point of view. Yes, the faster journey times are an attractive feature of the rail service that appeals to many people - commuters and students alike. However the flexibility of the coach service is just as valid. Gloucester Green coach station, horrible place that it is, is located in the centre of Oxford whilst the Railway Station is a 5-10 minute walk from any other popular location in the City Centre. The coach then serves the roads out of Oxford and Brookes University - which for the residents saves a trip into the City Centre and the walk to the Station. A similar debate applies in London.
Simon paints a rather gloomy picture of the coach frequencies. The Oxford Espress has indeed recently reduced their level of service quite substantially (whatever the spin in their promotional material might have you believe), whilst the train service is often quoted to have been increased by 20% in recent years. However overall there has still been an increase in coach departures in the same period, not a decrease. The Oxford Tube now operates a 10 minute service at certain times, and at every 15 minutes the X90 is no less frequent than it was before the Oxford Espress brand was introduced a couple of years ago. Half of the train journeys are stopping services, which take virtually the same amount of time as the coach outside of the peaks (1hr40min).
With regard to fares, having looked on the National Rail website there is no mention of the £10 saver return fare that Simon mentions, only the £17 fare. It is no good offering it if you can't buy it. Indeed, the coach fares reduce to £8 return after 3pm and allow you to come back after the trains stop running, so they do offer the cheapest option.
That neatly brings me onto the subject of the last departure. I think this is where the passenger's and rail industry's view diverges a little. Evidently on the night that the couple (mentioned in issue 168) were stranded there was engineering work scheduled to take place. The big benefit with the coach service is that if a road is closed an alternative route can be used so that departures can be maintained - particularly the important last departure (not that the Oxford Tube actually has a last departure on it's 24hr service). The argument that "The 2215 ‘fast’ train did run as I was a passenger on it that evening, and this was the last through train to Oxford because of engineering work that has been taking place on most weekends since December" doesn't quite cut it because the timetable says that the last departure is 2303. If it is cancelled because of engineering works, that counts as not running to the passenger but is ignored in the rail industry statistics. Also the electronic displays at the stations can be very misleading as they never give any indication that a special timetable is in force - the departure you are expecting to see just isn't there. The fact that it has been taking place every weekend since December is even worse. What use is a 2303 departure if it is disappears off the face of the Earth for 3 months running?
Whilst not wanting to turn this into a rant about the train service, which I believe is generally improving and generally reliable there is one other bone I wish to pick. As a regular user of trains from Oxford one of my biggest gripes is the information system at Oxford Station. It is simply unable to cope with the number of trains using the station, and regularly breaks down and has to be switched off. Most annoyingly though, it is also switched off whenever anything goes wrong on the network - leaving passengers in the dark about what is going on. This is the time when the system really is of use to people because when things are running to time you can just look at a timetable.
I wonder if anybody else has any thoughts on this subject?"
New Enviro "Dart"
ALEXANDER-DENNIS reveals ENVIRO 200 DART. For details please look at this web link - http://www.busandcoach.com/newsstory.aspx?id=680
Running Day for the 347 at Hemel Hempsted - some more pictures from Peter Edgar and Nigel James
Pictures from Peter Edgar, I especially like the one showing express service 803.
RML2440 in Newlands Bus Station by Nigel James
Nigel James writes "I am co-owner of RML 2412, which was allocated to High Wycombe garage [HE] from 1966-77. We are planning, ultimately, to return the bus as close as possible to it's early 1970's appearance. Unfortunately, as yet we have been unable to locate any photographs from this period. If any of your readers can help, we would be very grateful if they could submit their pictures for inclusion on the O&CBP (subject to your approval), or contact us directly on
Can anyone help please?
Peter Cartwright tells us that "the timetables/programmes for Slough/Windsor Running Day are now available." Click on this link TheRoutemasterreturnstoSlough.doc
Model bus special offer for readers
James Smith writes "I'm reopening my Bus Model store (its being hosted at www.arriva-shires.co.uk/shop for the time being) And as an opening offer I'd like to give your readers the opportunity to buy a couple of local models at a reduced price.. Anybody wishing to purchase these items should contact me directly by email (email@example.com) instead of through the store...Details Below:
CREATIVE MASTER UKBUS 1014 - DENNIS TRIDENT - OXFORD PARK & RIDE
Normal Selling Price £19.99 - Oxford Page Readers £13.99
CREATIVE MASTER UKBUS 2012 - DENNIS TRIDENT - STAGECOACH BROOKES BUS
Normal Selling Price £20.99 - Oxford Page Readers £14.99
Again my thanks to all my contributors, both old and new. Keep the historical info and older pictures coming but don't forget the modern stuff.
Malcolm Crowe - Sunday 26th March 2006
Visit the "OXFORD & CHILTERN BUS PAGE " Archives from October 2002 to date
News of the local companies – 26th March 2006
Glenn Knight writes "Here is a picture of V262 HBH 3262 on 101 Luton Bus Station on the evening service operated by the Luton Garage." http://glennsbusandcoachphotos.fotopic.net
Glenn has also provided an up to date fleet list with allocations to be found at this link : -ArrivaTheShiresFleetList March 2006
More pictures from readers show transfers of buses around the group.
Gavin Francis caught 5422 in St Aldates on 21st March working the 280. This bus had been at High Wycombe for some months.
Although fitted with a digital screen when at High Wycombe this was gone or non operative when caught in the lens of /Gavin Francis on 21st March.
Instead it was carrying a board - a la Crosville WID style - for 54 Halton Camp although operating either the 261 or 280.
5422 caught in poor light approaching Oxford from Wheatley last week.
John Wood of Halton writes "The third (and final?) Dennis Trident (and second one from Wycombe) 5432 (W432 XKX) has arrived at Aylesbury depot by Wednesday 22/03/06.
Indeed that morning 5431 formed the 06.55 departure on the 54 to Halton Camp, whilst 5422 left at the same time for Watford on the regular 500 double-deck duty. 5432 then formed the 07.15 to Oxford on route 280. No sitings of use on X15 to Milton Keynes - their intended route - as yet. Destination and number displays on all three buses are still a bit 'hit & miss' - often run with just a properly made board in the windscreen.
Also around the bus station throughout the 22nd was 3818 (H368 XGC) - one of the Wright bodied short Dennis Dart 'bouncy castles' new to London Buses. This may be a transfer in or just on loan.
Yes 5422 (which came direct from Luton) is the best of the trio for blinds - but if you see it again the large side number is still set to '38' - its usual working when at Luton. It certainly has 'Oxford' on the front destination (and the numbers work) but the only 'Aylesbury' setting is always 'Aylesbury via Dunstable' (i.e 61 route) making me suspicious that the Luton blind is still in there. 5422 of course has electrically worked roller blinds.
From earlier views that you published of 5432 on 328 at Reading I think this has an electronic display and perhaps this has not been reprogrammed as yet?
Apart from the Tridents (which are new arrivals) I actually think that Aylesbury depot are better than many others at getting the destination displays right. The electrically powered linen blinds seem to be the most troublesome with the MPD's (348X batch) on the 9 route sometimes inoperable. Bring back the winding handle! If you want to see really scruffy buses go to Stevenage!
Certainly the fleet generally looks clean and smart with an ongoing programme of silver wheel repaints (often a sign of impending or just post annual certificate). I think all three Tridents got this treatment on arrival at Aylesbury before they entered service - 5422 certainly did! Sorting the blinds out will obviously take a while longer!"
Nigel Peach writes "Scania 3204 (R204 RBM) has now joined 3203 at Wycombe from Aylesbury, so Trident 5432 has probably gone the other way - I've not seen it lately. What a shame these smart-looking Tridents did not stay long at Wycombe!
Metrobus M1100 in the yard on Saturday seen by me on schools work last Thursday in Beaconsfield.
Steven Lowe sent the picture below of the Optare Tempo on loan as advised.
Optare Tempo - 42 Seats with 27 Standees - Registration Number: YJ06 FZK
Nigel Peach sent this picture of the demonstrator taken today. Nice livery Ed.
The company has interesting information available on its web site at the following link:- http://www.oxfordbus.co.uk/company4.shtml
Some major items of interest are:
20th March 2006
Vehicles on loan:
898/9 HF06 FTO/Y Mercedes 0530 B39F new 3/06
These vehicles are on loan from Wilts & Dorset to cover additional activity on the Oxford-Abingdon direct service. They were delivered to Oxford direct from Mercedes and will enter service on 27th March.
The Citaros are brand new and delivered direct to Oxford. The livery will stand out and make a welcome addition to the bus scene in the city.
Seating is provided for 39 vs 42 in Oxford's own Citaros and the use of coach style seating and single seats is interesting.
Note also the special moquette used on these fine buses.
No trouble recognising these buses from a distance.
I am indebted to Nigel Eggleton, the Commercial Director, of OBC who arranged for these pre entry into service pictures which are much appreciated. No prize for the first submission of an in service example but I look forward to receiving same.
I have also got a few pictures of the new garage which is also most impressive.
A Sunday morning line up of buses awaiting service. The application of 3 star clean air branding is interesting on the Volvo B10Bs.
The new garage has two washes beyond the fuelling bays to ensure a smart fleet turn out.
24th March 2006
Vehicles on loan: 9, 10 and 12 to Birmingham Coach Company, a sister company within the Go-Ahead Group. These coaches will be repainted into National Express livery for use by Birmingham Coach Company.
9, 10 and 12: not used since service changes on 29.01.06. They remain licensed but are considered withdrawn.
I await first reports of these coaches on National Express diagrams
612: 3/06, following a minor fire in the engine compartment. Awaiting a decision on its future.
Chris Coyne writes "819's now back in service in the new City 15 livery, seen on the 24th."
Gavin Francis caught 819 today on its dedicated route, 15.
Curly writes to further workings saying "Trident 101 on 400. There's one red Trident or single door on 400 every day."
News from Nigel Peach reads "Received the following from Steve Wimbush, editor of TV & A Newsletter about a crisis at Reading Buses:
20/3/06Reading Buses are to receive 5 ex Metroline (Harrow) Dennis Tridents on short term loan from East Lancs. due to delays in completing the delivery of Omnidekkas due this week. The red Dennis buses will be used on standard daytime services (presumably from Monday 27th) thereby freeing up quality buses for quality services until the new buses arrive - following which they will enter service as quickly as possible.
Branding of various buses took place over the weekend and now six of the seven new Tridents are branded for the 27 with 18393 as an unbranded spare and 34467-9 are branded for the X30.
18394 was the first Trident to receive 27 branding and work is seen progressing on Sunday morning.
The finished result can be seen above and looks very smart.
Gavin Francis caught 18398 this afternoon in Magdalen St East having just been outshopped with branding.
Space has been left for offside advertising.
The X30 branding sits well on the Darts. The White Horse still has to be applied to the offside of Dart 34467 which entered service on Sunday.
Attention has been paid to the interior with cove panels and timetable holders suitably branded.
The last days of service on the X4, 31 and X31 was recorded for me by Gavin Francis.
22941 was working the X4 on 21st March, seen here at St Aldates.
20007 was working the X31 when seen, again in St Aldates on 21st March.
There is one journey per day to Wantage with an Oxford Tube Neoplan. This has now been rerouted to become an X30 inbound to Oxford only, leaving Wantage, as before, at 0720. Gavin Francis was on hand to record the last 31 and X31 service on Friday last, both pictures taken in Oxford - at the start and the end.
As mentioned before repaints for Oxford are now done "in house" at Banbury.
22940 had just returned from Banbury when this picture was taken on Sunday 26th March. It awaits fleet names and fleet numbers.
Some corrections to my report last week have been provided by Stagecoach Oxfordshire.
Most of the new timetable leaflets have NOT been produced by Best Impressions!!
Only the Bicester booklet has been, the South Oxfordshire and X30 leaflets have
been put together by another company, whilst the branding South Oxfordshire, X30
and Bicester has all been designed in house.
Only three Darts are required for the X30, not four. A start has been made on debranding all of the X4 Darts as and when they are available in readiness for 26th.
We are not aware that the Darts have been out on anything other than their normal routes since being de-branded. Any low floor vehicle may operate the BMW contract if it is available and has sufficient capacity."
Apologies for my misinformation. Ed
Martyn from Manchester writes "I was looking your website of Oxford Bus page, I like it, its great.
I wonder if you know about Thames Travel order for the new ELC 2006 Single decker. The ELC will released next month and an interesting link may be found at
If you have a digital camera and wish to submit photos for this page please send them to the me at
Derek Dawson took some nice pictures on the A34 last week. I asked about his camera etc as these moving shots are not at all easy to get as many will have found out. Derek writes "I use a Canon EOS350D with a Canon ultrasonic 75-300 zoom lens and I usually leave it on Auto.( I cant be bothered messing about with settings I find auto is good enough for what I want so that's what I use) I find this a brilliant camera main reason for buying it was I already had a Canon EOS SLR camera and the lenses I had for this are fully compatible with the 350D. I must admit I still don't always get it right it seems that you need to wait until the bus is that close that you are too late and it turns out good shutter speed usually is between 1/400 & 1/500 depending on light. Also you have 6 picture quality settings and I use it on the second setting which on my 250mb cards gives me 197 pictures and on the 1GB cards I get 797 pics (on the lowest setting which I haven't tried yet this goes to 999 pictures)"
The results may be seen below.
The NatEx 539 service seen on the A34 Oxford bound last week.
Two new Citaros coast bound on the A34. 403 HX06 EZC leading.
of Solent Blue Line writes "The
three on delivery were - HX06 EZC/G/J - will be our 403, 407 and 409
respectively. There are four more due for delivery on Monday with the balance on
We also took K121 BUD on Monday of last week and this is currently in paint at Barton Park, leaving just K122 BUD to collect in a week or two. I don't know if you saw the article in 'Buses' magazine about the use we are making of these vehicles on our
Ken Baker published this picture on a group site and I think it is ex Reading.
Gavin Francis took this picture of an ex Oxford Volvo with Wilts and Dorset on express service to London last week.
HISTORY IN PICTURES AND WORDS
If you have any pictures or historical memories and wish to submit them for this page please send them to the me at
Thames Valley times by Bill Legg (via Derek Doling)
More pictures from Derek Doling who is scanning his collection of Bill Legg pictures.
TV Lodekka 809 taken at the old bus station/garage in the early '60s. - Bill Legg.
833 must have been almost new when this picture was taken in 1960.
What impressive coaches these Guy Arab UF must have been. 89 at VCS on 25th January 1959.
The date for this year's Spring event is April 2nd.
Wycombe - Other events in 2006:
Special trip over route 347 from Hemel Hempstead to Uxbridge on 19 March marking the 40th anniversary of RML type vehicles starting on that route from Garston & Hemel Hempstead garages.
Bus Running Days as follows:
Sunday 14 May - Slough/Windsor
Sunday 25 June - Hemel Hempstead
Sunday 1 October – Amersham organised by Amersham & District Motorbus Society
Running Day in Aldershot with details from Andrew Dyer.
I wonder if you could put a piece in your "forthcoming events" section about all the excitement that will be in Aldershot (not often you see the words "excitement" and "Aldershot" in the same sentence!!) over the weekend of 3 & 4 June this year.
Stagecoach is organising an event jointly with the Aldershot & District Bus Interest Group to celebrate 100 years since the first bus service operated from Aldershot to Farnborough in June 1906. There will be a running day and on Sunday 4 June we will be holding an Open Day at our depot in Halimote Road, Aldershot. As with the Portsmouth event last year, we hope to attract local families as well as enthusiasts and all proceeds raised will go to local charities.
As Aldershot has such a strong history of Dennis operation, we are hoping to get as many different types of Dennis bus on site as we can. Do you have a contact at the Oxford Bus Museum who might be persuaded to bring a KFC Loline 2? Sadly, I don't think any of the Loline 1's or 3's that were on loan from A&D to COMS in 1969/70 have survived to enable them to make an appearance, although there will certainly be sister vehicles in the SOU xxx and AAA xxxC batches there.
Running Days as advised by Peter Cartwright, Running Day Organiser Amersham & District Motorbus Society
At last I'm able to officially notify everyone of the Running Days for 2006.
Sunday 14 May 2006 is the date for the second Slough/Windsor Running Day based on Slough Bus Station. Since last year a huge new Tesco store has been built adjacent and is now fully operational. Due to traffic delays experienced last year in Windsor an extra 5 minutes each way is being added to running times between Slough and Windsor.
There is no St George's Day parade to hold us up this year and the Queen's official birthday is 2 weeks plus later when her 80th birthday is marked. I know of no Royal Wedding planned for Windsor this year and, hopefully, timekeeping will be better on the Windsor routes.
An enhancement to the Burnham Beeches service is envisaged with the opposite way round the loop. There is also the chance to have double deck workings but terminating on the eastern fringe of the Beeches.
Another new route for this year will be a service through Windsor Great Park. Crown Estates are happy with this and I have a meeting arranged with them on Tuesday 10 January. White Bus Services currently operate a restricted service here but not on Sundays & on only certain days of the week. Operation is likely to be by non-LT single-deck vehicles. A large number of vehicles is required including at least 16 double-deckers.
Some 40 years earlier on 15 May 1966 RMLs were allocated to Windsor Garage to work several routes in the area. RMC coaches had already been there for some time.
WR Garage operated many other types of vehicle including RT,RF,RC,RCL,RB,RS,GS,SMA,SNB,STL, T and of course some of these only operated in the London Country period. Additionally in the summer months Central area red vehicles were commonplace as green vehicles were reassigned to Green Line relief duties so any red-liveried vehicle would be welcome. At least 30 vehicles (including 5 non-LT/LCBS vehicles will be needed to maintain the schedules.
As 1966 is the 40th anniversary of route 724 it is hoped to have a feeder to/from the Northern areas and to run the route from Slough through Windsor, Old Windsor, Runnymede to Staines. Via Runnymede, by the river Thames was the original routeing when it was extended from Staines to Windsor Castle. It did not serve Windsor Garage nor will it in 2006. The coach link to Staines will therefore be 724 this year in place of 718.
Anyone offering to operate a 725 from at least Kingston will be welcomed. Please let me know.
At the moment there is not an area for display vehicles but every effort will be made to find one. Can I please ask anyone who came last year and was allocated blinds and who will/cannot come this year, to contact me urgently so I can collect them for re-issue to others. These are expensive and will be needed on the day.
Sunday 25 June 2006
This date in mid-Summer is for the first Hemel Hempstead Running Day to be based on the Bus Station. Arriva the Shires and Essex have given permission for us to use the bus station that day but like Slough this is an operational bus station and we will not interfere with their operations which are anyway much reduced on Sundays.
This is the normal date for North Weald which will not take place this year and the NLTS have no plans for a replacement event that day.
Discussions have also taken place with Dacorum Borough Council, Herts County Council and the police who have all been most helpful. I have also spoken to the Market Superintendent and am able to book and pay for stall space on the day. For those who don't know Hemel, the covered market is situated behind the bus station - an excellent location.
The market will have a hot food stall that day and another stallholder sells confectionery, soft drinks, ice cream etc. Ample toilet facilities are at the bus station.
Peter Gomm and I visited Hemel on Fri 6 January and, with advice from the police, have identified an area nearby for display vehicles in Dacorum Way and vehicles on long breaks can park in Queensway (formerly Bury Road) between Leighton Buzzard Road and Marlow's, the railway station on one unused bay on Sundays and the bus station itself can be used for shorter breaks without disturbing its smooth operation. Health & Safety issues have to be borne in mind. A requirement of at least 10 double decks and 11 single decks are needed. This excludes any duplication which will be needed.
A number of rural and inter-urban routes have been chosen for operation - 302, 307 ,312.316. 317.317a,318,319 ,320,330, 337 ,347,706,708, 724. The 724 is for a feeder service to/from Watford from the North and then a 708 to/from Hemel. At the moment I have nothing from the South - any suggestions/offers? (THOSE IN BOLD HAVE TO BE SINGLE-DECK OPERATED).
Certain places such as Berkhamsted Station provide good interchanges with rtes 317/a and 312 connecting there and also in central Watford with the 302 and 347 connecting.
The biggest interchange of all, of course, is the bus station.
Again in Hemel a wide range of vehicles have been operated e.g. GS,RF, T, RB,RT,RMC, RML,SNB,SNC plus several others. Like Windsor, Central Area used to loan their vehicles for weekend and bank holiday duplication.
If anyone has blinds for any or part of these areas please let me know urgently.
Please respond as quickly as you can as I want to finalise timetables/duties etc asap.
I am paying a visit to Hemel this morning to see what it's like between 11.00 and 12.00
Sunday 1 October 2006 - the 18th Running Day at Amersham.
As route 724 is 40 years old this year, apart from the feeders, I want to schedule a service between Watford and High Wycombe via Amersham - the original route south of Watford. This will be 29 years to the day since MA Garage took over duties from HE - High Wycombe Garage which closed the previous day, 30 September 1977.
This year should see the brand new bus station at High Wycombe open by this date and this would be the ideal place to terminate. More on this Running Day in due course.
It is hoped to celebrate 40 years since RMLs took over route 363 Totteridge - Holtspur in February 1966. Weather permitting it is hoped to have RML/RMLs running over the route on Sunday 19 February. Likewise a month later to run over the full length of Route 347 Hemel - Uxbridge which received RMLs on 20 March 1966. Anyone else interested in joining us?
Please feel free to contact me by phone 01494 437750 or by e-mail - Peter_Cartwright@wycombe.gov.uk - or post at 54 Guinions Road, HIGH WYCOMBE, HP13 7NX.
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Visit the "OXFORD BUS PAGE" Archive 1998 - 2002
Visit the "OXFORD & CHILTERN BUS PAGE " Archives from October 2002 to date
These are three most interesting sites which I do recommend
Mike Penn's photo page with much from Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire as well as Buckinghamshire
Chris Lowe's Photo page - mainly North West UK
The Oxford Bus Museum
Ray Jackson Art
A web site which has paintings of buses.
Bus Services in Buckinghamshire
Bus services in Oxfordshire
Where are the Chilterns?
Visit this informative site through the link below.
Visit the "OXFORD BUS PAGE" Archive 1998 - 2002
Visit the "OXFORD & CHILTERN BUS PAGE " Archives from October 2002